Flurry of agreements mark day two of Florida mission to Israel

Deals includes partnerships on space technology, between universities

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

TEL AVIV, Israel - A day before Gov. Ron Desantis prepares to lead an historic cabinet meeting in Israel, state officials made a flurry of agreements on day two of Florida's massive trade mission to the Jewish state.

The connections made Tuesday between state of Florida and state of Israel spanned from schools to space. Both sides are calling the deals win-wins, but some controversy awaits Wednesday.

The meeting faces threat of a court challenge, alleging open meeting law violations.

"As you know, our office has been diligent about viewing the Florida Sunshine statutes making sure we're in compliance," said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

The governor’s office said it had not yet had a chance to review the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, at the dangerous border with Gaza, Florida’s director of emergency management, Jared Moskowitz, learned how Israeli soldiers prepare for the worst and respond to it, too.

Moskowitz reviewed how Israel conducts communications, logistics and search and rescue during an attack. Because of its preparations, hundreds are able to evacuate to shelters a minute before an incoming rocket.

In Florida, state officials could apply those techniques before and after a hurricane.

"Even though are challenges are different, I think the techniques and approaches here are something I can take back to South Florida," Moskowitz said.

Officials also made eight agreements for research and projects between Tel Aviv University and six

Florida universities, including Miami-Dade College and Florida International University.

A group of FIU students were in Tel Aviv on a trip with the American Israel Public Affairs committee and were able to attend the signing. FIU President Mark Rosenberg was also on hand for the ceremony.

"It's good that we're doing partnerships specifically at this crucial time," said FIU student Diego Cifuentes. 

Cifuentes said the agreements are important, as the anti-Israel movement Boycott, Divest, Sanction -- known by its BDS acronym and founded by Palestinian activists -- has found a foothold on college campuses under the banner of free speech. 

"This movement of BDS is designed to discredit a lot of the things that have been occurring here that are very, very positive," Rosenberg said.

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